australia

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Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Dipping into Natural Wines

A snapshot of the scene in Australia

Posted: April 16, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Winemakers who keep their wineries spotless and hygienic would have been horrified by the sight that greeted me at Jauma, one of the stars of the natural wine movement in Australia. Flies buzzed about a motley assortment of upturned barrels and plastic tanks—any handy vessel large enough to contain a fermentation—the tops draped with old tablecloths and bedsheets.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Where Is Torbreck Headed?

And what of Dave Powell, the ousted founder?

Posted: April 9, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Torbreck, which ranks high on anyone's list of modern Australian wine producers, made headlines late last year when Dave Powell, who founded Torbreck in 1994, was summarily fired. Owner Pete Kight, the American entrepreneur who started CheckFree and also owns Quivira winery in Sonoma County, refused to renew Powell's contract.

A crossfire of accusations got ugly, lighting up the Australian press for several weeks. Powell has since been served with court papers invoking a non-compete clause in his contract. He cannot make any wine on his own in 2014, the vintage just wrapping up. The lawsuit goes to trial April 28 in Adelaide.

I recently visited Torbreck to taste the newest vintages, and then sat down with Powell to hear his plans for the future.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

A Starry Wine from Heathcote

Cluster M45 is looking a lot like a classic

Posted: April 2, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

On my first day in Victoria, the cool-climate capital of Australia, I went up to Heathcote to see what Michel Chapoutier has been up to. Unfortunately, the Rhône-based vintner arrives to check on the 2014 harvest after I must move on to appointments in South Australia. With limited time, I figured to taste a few fermenting 2014s and perhaps a few older bottles, meet the rest of the crew and get back to Melbourne to check in at my hotel before it got to be too late.

To my pleasant surprise, Ron Laughton was there waiting with a nifty vertical of La Pleiade, produced in partnership with Chapoutier. Because the original name is a bit too close to a preexisting California wine, the U.S. label is Cluster M45, the scientific name for Pleiades, the constellation visible to both of the partners from their homes a hemisphere away from each other.

WineSpectator.com members can read my non-blind scores and tasting notes.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Colorful Cuisine at Sydney's Sepia

And a classy tour of Australian wine's past, present and future

Posted: March 25, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Several Sydney insiders told me Sepia was the place to go for a great wine-pairing menu, so it was my first stop after arriving in Australia last week. Chef Martin Benn, once a protégé of Marco Pierre White in London, indulges a modernist bent since he left his post as chef de cuisine at Tetsuya's in 1999. His wife, Vicki Wild, once Tetsuya's personal assistant, brings warmth to the sharp-edged dining room on the ground floor of a Darling Harbour high-rise, and sommelier Rodney Setter has built up a broad and knowledgeably chosen international wine list of more than 1,100 selections, mostly current vintages although older wines, especially Bordeaux, Rhône and Australian Shiraz bottlings, scatter throughout.

Feb. 28, 2014 Issue  :  Features

Oregon Chardonnay, Tasmania, Malbec Beyond Argentina

Posted: February 28, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

News & Features  :  News

Newly Identified Yeast Produces Lower-Alcohol Wine

Australian scientists identify a yeast strain that can reduce alcohol levels by up to 1.5 percent

Posted: February 26, 2014  By Kasey Carpenter

News & Features  :  Tasting Highlights

10 Reds from Australia for $20 or Less

New reviews of Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet from the 2012 vintage

Posted: February 21, 2014  By Augustus Weed

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Aussie Turnaround Looks to Be Real

Knowledgeable crowd at WineAustralia trade tasting encouraged by wide range of wines

Posted: January 22, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Australian wine is gaining the attention of American wine drinkers again, significantly that of the gatekeepers: wine merchants, sommeliers and writers.

The reasons for Australia's slide in these parts from 2008 to 2012 probably involve some combination of their own overreach and a wine-drinking public's fascination with some other Next Big Thing. Whatever, every Aussie winemaker I've met trying to sell their wares in the U.S. this past year has spoken of doors opening that had been shut to them.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Five Vintages of Hill of Grace

Tasting wines from four decades of Henschke's iconic Shiraz

Posted: November 22, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

When I could not get to Australia for the Henschke winery's massive 40-vintage tasting of its signature wine earlier this year, the iconic Shiraz Hill of Grace, Stephen Henschke offered to bring a few of the older vintages to me when he came for the New York Wine Experience.

Here are my scores and tasting notes on the Henschke Hill of Grace 1973, 1986, 1990, 2001 and 2008.

News & Features  :  News

Nuking Your Pinot Noir

The latest winemaking tool may be in your kitchen—the microwave

Posted: October 23, 2013  By Kasey Carpenter

Learn Wine  :  Ask Dr. Vinny

How come I don't see as much Australian wine as I used to?

Posted: October 16, 2013  

News & Features  :  News

Torbreck Owner Ousts Founder Dave Powell From Australian Winery

Personality clashes lead owner Pete Kight to part with Barossa Valley vintner

Posted: September 3, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Aug. 31, 2013 Issue  :  Alphabetical Listing

Australia Alphabetical Listing

Posted: August 31, 2013  

Aug. 31, 2013 Issue  :  Tasting Reports

Australia on the Move

After a period of market turmoil, quality is rising amid a tide of new wines

Posted: August 31, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

News & Features  :  News

Australian Wine Pioneer Peter Lehmann Dies at 82

The "Baron of Barossa" was a key figure in the wine region's renaissance

Posted: July 3, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

News & Features  :  News

2013 Southern Hemisphere Harvest Report: Australia and New Zealand

A first look at vintage quality down under, with eyewitness reports from growers and winemakers

Posted: June 5, 2013  By Augustus Weed, MaryAnn Worobiec

News & Features  :  News

New Zealand Wine Company Buys Historic Australian Shiraz Winery

Barossa Valley Estate, a Shiraz icon with financial troubles, sold to Delegat’s Group Limited

Posted: May 2, 2013  By Augustus Weed

Learn Wine  :  Ask Dr. Vinny

What's the difference between a Chardonnay from France and one from Australia?

Posted: April 5, 2013  

News & Features  :  Unfiltered

Fire Scorches Chez Panisse

Plus, Château Palmer learns no one is safe from wine crime, Bolivia's president prescribes coca wine to the new pope and Moët & Chandon gets a questionable endorsement from Justin Timberlake on SNL

Posted: March 14, 2013  

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Wolf Blass Reflects Where Oz Is Going

Always deft in style, the wines are getting more specific

Posted: February 20, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Over a casual dinner of sardine chips, pasta with bergamot and steak with chimichurri and mushrooms at the new Rich Table in San Francisco, Wolf Blass' Chris Hatcher brought me up to date on what his end of the company had been up to. Never among the biggest wines on the block, Wolf Blass has always aimed for balance and drinkability without losing the ripe flavors Australia can do so well.

We tasted three examples of what's coming next. The first wine encapsulated in a single sip the overarching trend in Australian wine today. Wolf Blass Chardonnay Adelaide Hills White Label 2010, silky in texture, graceful, expressive but not at all weighty, tasted like biting into a raw heirloom apple, getting complexity more from maturing on lees in older barrels than from oak. The first word that came to mind was "deft."

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